SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Right tackle Trent Brown tested his injured shoulder before Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks, with the San Francisco 49ers hoping he'd be able to play despite suffering the injury a few days earlier. Alas, when it came time to make a decision, Brown wasn't ready to go.
So the Niners turned to undrafted rookie Erik Magnuson to start in his place. Magnuson made the team out of training camp as a guard, though he had some experience at tackle in college.
It was a long day at the office for Magnuson, who faced Seattle end Michael Bennett, a matchup made more difficult when Magnuson suffered a foot sprain early in the game. Still, Magnuson played through the pain and impressed coach Kyle Shanahan with his toughness.
"We didn't know about it," Shanahan said. "He toughed it out, played throughout the whole game. It was a pretty bad foot sprain... I was pretty amazed. Got a lot of respect for that guy for staying out there and battling through that, especially with how short we were at tackles."
While Magnuson was able to make it through the game, he won't be able to play for the Niners again this season. Shanahan said Monday that Magnuson's foot sprain will keep him out for the rest of the season and he will end up on injured reserve.
That's certainly not how Magnuson hoped to end his rookie season, but it's safe to say he's done enough to get a shot to return and even factor into the mix next season. His versatility alone makes him a candidate for a backup job, but the 49ers could still use help on the interior and veteran center Daniel Kilgore is set to become a free agent.
Magnuson appeared in four games with two starts this season, with most of that work coming at tackle even though he mostly practiced at center and guard.
"He's earned our respect a lot," Shanahan said. "I think everyone in our building. He made this team as an undrafted guard-center, an inside player. He's been thrown in there to play tackle. The game's not too big for him. Our O-line coaches told him just a couple hours before kickoff that he was going to be starting. I think it surprised him a little bit.
"But if you would have saw his face, you would have been pretty confident. The guy was fired up to get an opportunity, loves going out there and playing. He's not scared to fail. You get an undrafted rookie guard out there starting at right tackle for you going against Michael Bennett playing with a foot sprain for three quarters to where he's not going to be able to play the rest of the year -- he doesn't flinch, doesn't hesitate, just keeps playing, doesn’t say anything. That's a guy I'd love to play with."
The question now becomes, who the Niners will use at right tackle this week against the Chicago Bears? Shanahan said Monday that Brown will be day-to-day as he recovers from the shoulder injury he suffered in practice last Thursday.
“Darrell has got some ability," Shanahan said. "That's why we kept him here. He got one play in that game when Joe [Staley] went out for a little bit. He's continued to get better. He's made a lot of progress here over the last month or so. He might get thrown in there a little bit more, which we'll find out when that happens. But regardless, depending on how you handle it, it usually allows guys to get better in the long run."